Sunday, May 27, 2012

Greetings from Gettysburg!

Greetings from Gettysburg!
May 20, 2012

My name is John Castaldo and ever since I was very young, I have been exploring National Parks. It has always been a dream of mine to work in such places of natural beauty and historic significance. Now, some twenty years later, here I am living and working at Gettysburg National Military Park as a ProRanger.

The Battle of Gettysburg was the largest battle of the Civil War and is considered one of the turning points of the war. Fought on July 1 - 3, 1863 in the sleepy town of Gettysburg, PA, over 46,000 Americans would become casualties by the battle's end. Several months after the battle, President Abraham Lincoln would dedicate Gettysburg National Cemetery to the fallen with his Gettysburg Address. Portions of the battlefield were later purchased for preservation and turned over to the United States War Department, which managed the grounds until the National Park Service acquired them in 1933.

Gettysburg has always held special significance for me, as it was the first National Park I remember visiting. As a boy, I was fascinated with the rangers' stories of the battle and would play soldier around the park's famous landmarks. I have been in good hands since my arrival thanks to Supervisory Ranger of Law Enforcement, Ryan Levins. Ranger Levins has taken every opportunity to show me around the park and introduce me to some of the other employees that I will be working with during my internship. So far, I have spent most of my time settling into my quarters, the Spangler Farm, a historic farmhouse located right in the middle of the battlefield. Everyday I wake up to the sunrise over rolling fields and the sound of birds chirping; it is a far cry from mornings in Philadelphia! Being here has reminded me just how special National Parks like Gettysburg are and why I want to protect them as a Law Enforcement Ranger. I can't wait for the week to begin and look forward to my first assignments as a ProRanger!

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